Julia Hartley-Brewer

British pubs have been pushed to the brink

  • From Spectator Life
Image: iStock

A long time ago, a seasoned old hack gave me some wise words of advice: never to trust anyone who did not know the Sunday pub opening hours. This was back in the days when the Nanny State got to decide when pubs could open on the Sabbath.

This year, after thirteen long months of the Gestapo State in charge of whether pubs could open at all, I’ve decided to write off anyone who didn’t have ’12 April’ circled and underlined in red ink three times in their diaries to mark our return at long last, after a long hard lockdown winter, to the pub.

It was hailed as the Great Reopening. But when Monday finally dawned, the Great British Weather had other ideas, delivering freezing cold temperatures, sleeting snow and, yes, actual hail to large parts of the country. Not that it deterred the hardy Brits, of course.

‘Look!’ the lockdown lovers cried, ‘You’re back in the pub! We’re not in lockdown anymore!’

A bizarre claim given that 12 April marked the day when we were very specifically not allowed back in the pub. On the contrary, we were only allowed outside the pub. And even then, with the finger-wagging advice from Boris Johnson to do so ‘responsibly’ and ‘sensibly’.

Yet the chance to enjoy a drink in a beer garden did not bring as much joy to publicans’ hearts as it did to their customers. Indeed, the partial reopening of hospitality venues has been a cruel double-edged sword for many.

Government ministers and SAGE members may have done away with the madness of the 10pm curfew and the Scotch Egg Rule requiring everyone to order a substantial meal or be guaranteed to kill granny as they sipped their pint, but they were still determined to made life as difficult as possible for landlords.

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